LeBron James to Miami Heat: Jesse Jackson Forces Racism into the Discussion

RG YohoCorrespondent IJuly 12, 2010

CLEVELAND - JULY 8:  A parking attendant stands near a larger than life photograph of LeBron James July 8, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. The two-time Most Valuable Player has the choice of remaining with the Cleveland Cavaliers or signing with a new team. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)
J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

Ever since the election of President Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson has been a man desperately in search of a cause to exploit.

Apparently, with the departure of LeBron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Rev. Jackson has finally found one.

With Dan Gilbert’s stinging indictment of LeBron’s departure, Jackson has accused the Cavs’ owner of treating James as a “runaway slave.”

Leave it to Jesse Jackson to introduce race into a colorblind discussion of sports loyalties! You can always count on Jesse to drag the slimy world of politics into the sometimes-brutal world of professional sports.

The anger in Cleveland, over LeBron’s defection to Miami, had absolutely nothing to do with racism. It had everything to do with the loyalty that everyday Americans have for their favorite sports teams.

When franchise players in any sport choose to go elsewhere in pursuit of money or larger notoriety, the fans in that city often feel slighted and outraged.

The hatred and contempt for James has nothing to do with the color of his skin; rather, it involved the content of his character.

On the news, I saw an untold number of Black Americans criticizing LeBron or setting fire to their jerseys. The gatherings were clearly multi-cultural.

I doubt there were any of them who even considered LeBron’s skin pigment.

Growing up only minutes from where the Cavaliers play every home game, LeBron had become a local institution. The residents of Cleveland saw James as a neighbor, the hometown hero who made it to the big time.

LeBron’s nationally televised defection to another city was seen as a public rejection of Cleveland and its citizens.

I am not saying their opinions are correct, or even rational, but they certainly aren’t political or racist.

When Gilbert publicly criticized LeBron, the Cavs' owner was simply reflecting the views of his city and the fans of his team. Not one word of the owner’s statement made any reference to the basketball player’s skin color.

Once described as a “race-hustling poverty pimp” by former Oklahoma quarterback and Congressman J.C. Watts, Jackson saw the occasion as a chance to finally gain some much-needed visibility.

You must understand, of course, these are hard times for Jackson and colleague Al Sharpton, who have transformed race baiting into a high-profile and lucrative career.

Obama’s ascension to our highest elective office has forever laid waste to the notion that the United States is a racist nation. That realization has led to massive downsizing in the racial exploitation industry, and it's seriously cutting down on Jackson and Sharpton's profits.

Like many other Americans, Revs. Jackson and Sharpton have recently been forced to tighten their belts.

And Jesse Jackson clearly doesn’t like it.

The reverend’s just trying to figure out a way to get his piece of the action.